(WARNING: This article may contain unlabelled spoilers for Rogue One)
It has been one month since Gareth Edwards's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was officially released to audiences right around the globe, and golly gosh was it a good ride. Receiving high reviews from critics and both diehard and casual Star Wars fans alike, the first standalone, "non-episode" feature film from a galaxy far far away had my friends and I begging for more. Before I could make it to the cinema to witness it in all of its glory, the movie had already been compared numerous times to classic #StarWars film Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and that raised my expectations even higher than they had been. Suffice to say I was far from disappointed.
After paying $40 five times over to repeatedly watch the events of the most recent Star Wars installment play out on the big screen (that's roughly once a week between now and it's initial release date), here are the top five things that I believe #RogueOne has taught many of its audience members.
5. Friends Can Be Found Within The Most Unlikely Circumstances
K-2SO is the latest Star Wars droid to steal our hearts, providing much of the comic relief during what a 1960s tree-hugging hippy might call the "heavier" moments of the film. Despite the fact that this humor mainly comes across through the imperial droid's witty and sarcastic comments directed towards our latest heroine, Jyn Erso, it is clear by the third act that the two have developed some form of affection (however mild it may be) towards one another.
Yes, they may spend a substantial amount of their shared screen time bickering, and yes, K-2 may show concern upon their official introduction that Jyn could sabotage both the mission and the team by turning her gun on them. This is all true. However, although they are in the middle of fighting in the most epic rebellion in cinematic history, the pair (as well as the rest of the ragtag bunch that make up Rogue One's main group of heroes) let slip a few telltale signs of friendship and camaraderie between each other that prove to everyone that friendships can be made in the most unlikely places, with the most unlikely people (or droids, respectively).
4. Almost Everybody Is Redeemable
Not an uncommon theme for Star Wars films of both past and present, the idea that anyone can redeem themselves if they want to is very prominent within the first anthology movie. Bodhi Rook is an imperial pilot bearing similar character qualities to that of Finn from The Force Awakens. Like Finn, Bodhi is ashamed of his, "employment" per say, to the Empire, and defects in an attempt to prove to both himself and those around him that at his core, he is still a good person. By working with Jyn's father, Galen Erso, and delivering his message containing crucial information about the first Death Star, Bodhi tries to make up for whatever acts he ever conducted under the rule of the Emperor and Darth Vader.
Similarly, our other hero — Cassian Andor — reveals the harsh reality that some of the rebel fighters were forced to face when standing up against the Empire, all in the name of the greater cause. He tells Jyn that he has fought for the rebellion almost his entire life, and Rogue One also showcases his journey as he attempts to justify all the horrible acts that he had ever committed for the rebel alliance. Cassian's decision (along with those of the other rebels who also decide to take part in the quest to steal the Death Star plans) to stand with Jyn was driven by his belief that if the rebels did not win the war, everything he had ever done throughout his life would have been for nothing.
"I couldn't face myself if I gave up now" — Cassian Andor
Rogue One's theme of redemption is not dissimilar to that of Darth Vader's in Return of the Jedi, when Anakin Skywalker is finally drawn back to the light side of the force after Luke makes it clear that he will never fall to the Emperor's control, as his father had done so many years beforehand. In both instances, the light side prevailed. Whether the victory be small or large, Rogue One reminds those of us who may have screwed up in the past that almost anyone is redeemable (Chancellor Palpatine not included) if they commit to turning their life around. Who knows, maybe we will see a Vader-like transformation from Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo.
3. There May Be Hope For Us Yet (Pun Intended)
In case you do not recognize this shot of Princess Leia, then you obviously have not watched the final scene of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Star Wars has always been known for high quality (or in some cases, mildly passable) CGI usage to bring many of the galaxy's more outrageous characters and other aspects to the big screen. Rogue One, however, takes their use of CGI one step further, and literally (for lack of a better word) DE-AGES some of the saga's most iconic characters.
Audiences are treated to younger-looking versions of both Leia Organa and Grand Moff Tarkin throughout the film, and if they are able to pull this stunt off for a substantial amount of the film's screen time in post-production, just imagine how close we must be to being able to do this in real life (and no, botox does not count).
2. Everyone Is The Hero Of Their Own Story
Forget Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, the real villain of this story is Director Orson Krennic, the man responsible for the creation of the Empire's super weapon — the Death Star. Although he is to blame for the construction of an overpowered spaceship that can literally destroy planets, you have to at least try to look at things from his point of view.
In his mind, Krennic was the one with all of the power, the one who could please his superiors by providing them with something so powerful that they could rule the galaxy in what he had convinced himself was peace. With something as powerful and destructive (I use that term lightly for obvious reasons) as the Death Star, no one would ever dare fight back against them, because THAT wouldn't be good for anyone.
"We were this close to providing PEACE and security for the galaxy." — Orson Krennic
"You're confusing peace with terror." — Galen Erso
"Well, you have to start somewhere" — Orson Krennic
1. Do What Is Right, No Matter The Cost
At the center of it all we have Jyn Erso, the key to everything that transpires in Rogue One and even the major events of A New Hope. Without her, the rebel alliance may never have obtained the plans to the Death Star, and subsequently never have figured out how to destroy the Empire's biggest threat.
However, up until she is "rescued" by the alliance, Jyn has removed herself from the fight between the rebels and the Empire, choosing to do as she pleases.
"It's not a problem if you don't look up." — Jyn Erso discussing the Empire flying it's flag across the galaxy
Merely days prior to the theft of the Death Star plans, Jyn has no desire to rejoin the fold and fight against the imperial army. However, upon receiving a message from her father in hologram form, she returns to being a brilliant, committed soldier who will do whatever it takes to win the war, no matter the cost. Jyn, along with her partners that join her along the way, performs the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to finish what her father began. The film ends on a poetic note about hope, reinforcing the fact that the characters' sacrifices were not made in vain.
If you agree with me on any of these points (especially No. 3), or have your own ideas about what messages Rogue One: A Star Wars Story sends to its viewers, don't be afraid to grab my attention and let me know by commenting at the bottom of this post.
What did you learn after watching Rogue One?